Paul Krugman: Award-winning Paragraphs:
John Taylor has accomplished something sort of amazing: he has managed to write the two worst paragraphs I’ve read this week. Here they are:
Paul Krugman: Award-winning Paragraphs:
John Taylor has accomplished something sort of amazing: he has managed to write the two worst paragraphs I’ve read this week. Here they are:
ROME, Ga.--Tom Hackett’s life in the meat business was nearly gone.... Hackett stood behind the case and lamented that in a few hours he would be closing the store he has run for five years. The weak local economy... the new chain grocery... the bank that said it couldn’t lend to him anymore. But the biggest culprit, he said, was a man in Washington whose name Hackett could not bring himself to speak.
Let me start by saying that I have enormous respect for Ezra Klein, whose work in creating and maintaining WonkBlog has, I would argue, made him the brightest spot and the greatest hero twenty-first century American journalism has seen.
And let me start by saying that I also have enormous respect for Jim Tankersley: a smart, honorable, and hard-working reporter who knows immense amounts about the American economy and about public policy, and who tries his best to inform his readers on both print and screen within the limits of the institutional role allotted him.
And let me say that his 1700 word piece on the economy and politics of Tea-Party hub Rome, Georgia can be and has been read with enormous profit by me and people like me.
Daniel Little: Understanding Society: Why a war on poor people?:
American conservatives for the past several decades have shown a remarkable hostility to poor people in our country. The recent effort to slash the SNAP food stamp program in the House (link); the astounding refusal of 26 Republican governors to expand Medicaid coverage in their states--depriving millions of poor people from access to Medicaid health coverage (link); and the general legislative indifference to a rising poverty rate in the United States--all this suggests something beyond ideology or neglect.... How is it possible to explain this part of contemporary politics on the right? What can account for this persistent and unblinking hostility towards poor people?
One piece of the puzzle seems to come down to ideology and a passionate and unquestioning faith in "the market". If you are poor in a market system, this ideology implies you've done something wrong.... Another element here seems to have something to do with social distance.... A crucial thread here seems to be a familiar American narrative around race...
John Podesta and Neera Tanden: Proponents of austerity are out of ideas. We have the alternative:
We can have strong economic growth without shredding the social safety net... by investing in the true engine of economic growth: the middle class. These are the policies real people believe in.... Conservative politicians are out of ideas. We've tried their solutions. Their trickle-down ideology of austerity for the poor and tax cuts for the rich has dominated policymaking for the better part of three decades. And what has it gotten us? Increasing inequality. Stagnating wages. One in four American children living in poverty.... The worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And yet today's conservatives call for more of the same....
At present, 24 States (and DC) have decided to move ahead with the Medicaid expansion provided for in Obamacare... 21 have rejected expansion... 6 are still considering their options. If the current decisions hold, it will result in a self-imposed redistribution of money from poorer (and typically Red states), to richer (and typically Blue ones). According to an analysis I [and Callie Gable] have done... in 2016... the 24 expanding states will receive $30.3 Billion... those not expanding will forego... $35.0 Billion... the fence sitters have... $15.2 Billion at stake....
The rejectors have 1/3 of the wealth of the nation--call it $5 trillion/year. They are throwing 0.7% of that away to make a political point. If this federal money was, say, to host an Air Force wing they would be begging for it. But since it is simply to help their poor afford to go to the doctor and make the lives of their medical professionals easier by not forcing them to play a shell game to raise the resources to treat the uninsured...
I am increasingly convinced that the Republicans of the Prairies and the South just do not understand how to play the game of economic growth or, indeed, of capitalism in the 21st century. Betting your economic growth strategy on low wages, a lack of infrastructure, low taxes, union-busting, natural resources, and the direction of farm subsidies, defense spending, and NASA to your districts carries you only so far, after all.
In the short-run of our currently-depressed economy we want to apply the within-monetary-union Keynesian multiplier to these flows: Medicaid-rejcting red states are thus making themselves 2% poorer in the short-run. For medical-care hubs like Dallas, Omaha, Atlanta, and Kansas City, the effects are likely to be larger: 3% less in terms of economic activity relative to the baseline, while the Bostons, the Denvers, and the Albuquerques will be on baseline. In the long-run--should they continue this insane and self-destructive policy--we want to apply Enrico Moretti's long-run regional economic distribution multipliers--which means that we are talking a fall relative to baseline growth of 6% of regional GDP as far as medical-hub cities are concerned.
Doctors of Overland Park, Kansas, and businessmen and -women of Kansas City, Dallas, Omaha, and Atlanta to the red courtesy phone, please...
Robert Farley: Repudiate! Refudiate!:
What’s missing [from Friedersdorf's mine] here seems to be an understanding of how the 2008 Republican primary actually played out. To my recollection, the only candidate that ran on an explicit repudiation of Bush administration security and economic policies maxed out at 24.57% of the vote in the meaningless Montana caucus, and averaged well below 10% for the bulk of the campaign despite his aforementioned monopolization of the anti-Bush position. And in 2012, that same candidate rocked all the way to an average of 11% of the GOP primary vote, despite again monopolizing the “repudiate Bush” position. And so, if Democrats in 2016 repudiate Obama to exactly the same extent that Republicans in 2008 repudiated Bush, they’ll likely select… wait for it… a candidate who supports policies that are virtually indistinguishable from the incumbent President.
Perhaps more importantly, the Tea Party reaction, such that it has been, was only incidentally about Bush, and entirely about Barack Obama. I know it bothers Conor to think about his political allies as neo-confederate fanatics largely animated by racial animus, but you go to war with the friends you choose, not the friends you… uh, choose, I guess. And of course, you can tell how much Republicans hate George W. Bush based on the 84-15 majority that thinks he was a good President.
I’ve said it before and (sadly) I suspect I’ll have to say it again: I can appreciate why Conor Friedersdorf takes himself very seriously, but I can’t understand why any progressives take him seriously at all.
Ashok Rao: Feed the Beast:
Since 1988 education (purple) has increased almost seven fold. Healthcare (red) five fold. Food and beverage prices have only doubled, apparel costs have flatlined, while technology and entertainment prices have plummeted. Basically prices for everything the government is good for have a positive slope and everything it’s bad for have a negative slope. I don’t think any other graph could more clearly explode hopes for a smaller, or even flatlined, government.
Paul Krugman: Why Is Obamacare Complicated?:
Obamacare isn’t complicated because government social insurance programs have to be complicated: neither Social Security nor Medicare are complex in structure. It’s complicated because political constraints made a straightforward single-payer system unachievable. It’s been clear all along that the Affordable Care Act sets up a sort of Rube Goldberg device, a complicated system that in the end is supposed to more or less simulate the results of single-payer, but keeping private insurance companies in the mix and holding down the headline amount of government outlays through means-testing. This doesn’t make it unworkable: state exchanges are working, and healthcare.gov will probably get fixed before the whole thing kicks in. But it did make a botched rollout much more likely.
So [Mike] Konczal is right to say that the implementation problems aren’t revealing problems with the idea of social insurance; they’re revealing the price we pay for insisting on keeping insurance companies in the mix, when they serve little useful purpose. So does this mean that liberals should have insisted on single-payer or nothing? No.... Yes, Obamacare is a somewhat awkward kludge, but if that’s what it took to cover the uninsured, so be it.... The odds remain high that this will work, and make America a much better place.
Christina Romer: Monetary Policy in the Post-Crisis World:
It [will] be helpful to step back from all of the discussion about who should be Fed chair, and talk instead about monetary policy more broadly. The last five years have been very difficult ones.... The Federal Reserve and other central banks had to take unprecedented actions to try to contain the panic. And they have continued to struggle to come up with innovative ways to spur lending and encourage growth. With the benefit of a little distance, I thought it would be useful to talk about what we have learned about monetary policy from the experience of the financial crisis, and the subsequent recession and slow recovery...
Pro-Growth Liberal: EconoSpeak: A Fuzzchart on Federal Spending Courtesy of John Taylor:
Mark Thoma used to crack me up when he would refer to those Jerry Bowyer National Review graphs as Fuzz Charts, since Bowyer usually tried to deceive his readers. Now if you miss those good old days--John Taylor has kindly decided to take over....
A starting point is to lay out in simple big picture terms what the House and Senate budget resolutions passed earlier this year look like.... The chart shows the recent history of federal outlays along with the path of outlays as a percentage of GDP under the Senate proposal and under the House proposal. There is a big difference in these two paths. Spending gradually comes down to pre-crisis levels as a share of GDP under the House plan and remains high under the Senate plan. I have been arguing since 2009 that undoing the recent spending binge is a reasonable goal, and prefer the House version on that count.
My problem with his chart is its historical starting point is 2000 when Federal spending as a share of GDP was only 18.5%.... A naïve reader might think the historical norm was the 18.5% observed in 2000, but my graph takes us back to 1961. And it turns out that Federal spending as a share of GDP was not always as low it was at the end of the Clinton years. The peace dividend years are over and future health care spending isn’t going to what it was in 2000--but John Taylor wants us to think there is something magical and normal about the Ryan budget.
For two decades, from the same home office, Sullivan has been exposing the tax-dodging schemes of multinational corporations in the columns of Tax Notes... an early light on how companies had finagled 'transfer prices'... called out the big drug and tech companies for transferring ownership of their patents and trademarks... to subsidiaries in Ireland and other low-tax jurisdictions.... in 2010 pieced together from public filings that Apple had understated its reported profits to hide the fact that it was paying a tax rate of less than 2 percent on its overseas profits, shining the spotlight on Apple’s tax avoidance schemes. “We’ve been banging the drum on this stuff for years,” Sullivan said with just the slightest hint of satisfaction as the morning sun filtered into the garage he shares with bicycles, garden tools, an American flag and an old coffee maker. 'But it’s finally gone prime time'
John Milburn: The Latest Voter Suppression Fad: Two Tiers:
Officials in Arizona and Kansas are making preparations for elections with two categories of voters. There will be those who provided proof of citizenship when they registered to vote, and will therefore be able to vote in all local, state, and federal elections. And then there will be those who did not provide proof of citizenship when they registered. Those people will only be able to vote in federal contests--if at all.
Amanda Marcotte: Contraception Extremism and the Right-Wing Bubble:
When you aim for “mighty rulers of America” and instead land on “squalling baby” as your public image, you screwed up, big time. So what went so terribly wrong for Republicans? If you really want to understand what’s the matter with the modern Republican Party, look no further than the issue of contraception, which played an important role during the shutdown talks. The way that the modern Republican Party approaches what used to be the non-issue of contraception tells you everything you need to know about how the Republicans’ dramatic right-wing shift happened, and why they can’t seem to see that the political moves they think are genius are actually scaring and alienating ordinary voters....
Sahil Kapur: New Budget Numbers May Kill A Medicare Age Hike:
Raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 saves far less than previously projected... cuts the deficit by just $19 billion over a decade, according to a report released Thursday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Last year, the same policy... was found by the CBO to save $113 billion.... The idea has been floated since 2011, when President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner nearly agreed to a broad debt deal that adopted it....
Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty: Why the 1% should pay tax at 80%:
In the United States, the share of total pre-tax income accruing to the top 1% has more than doubled, from less than 10% in the 1970s to over 20% today (pdf). A similar pattern is true of other English-speaking countries.... Other OECD countries... have seen far less concentration of income among the mega rich. At the same time, top income tax rates on upper income earners have declined significantly since the 1970s in many OECD countries--gain, particularly in English-speaking ones.... At a time when most OECD countries face large deficits and debt burdens, a crucial public policy question is whether governments should tax high earners more. The potential tax revenue at stake is now very large....
1:20 PM: Former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden on Acela behind me blabbing "on background as a former senior admin official" Sounds defensive.
1:21 PM: Hayden talking about a famous blackberry now.
1:23 PM: Hayden was bragging about rendition and black sites a minute ago.
1:26 PM: Michael Hayden on Acela giving reporters disparaging quotes about admin. "Remember, just refer as former senior admin" #exNSAneedsadayjob
1:27 PM: On Acela: Michael Hayden was talking to Massimo Calabresi at TIME I am pretty sure. Does he tweet?
1:29 PM: On Acela: former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden just ended last of handful of interviews bashing admin
1:34 PM: On Acela listening to former NSA spy boss Michael Hayden give "off record" interviews. I feel like I'm in the NSA. Except I'm in public.
1:35 PM: On Acela: phone ringing. I think the jig is up. Maybe somebody is telling him I'm here. Do I hide?
1:40 PM: New call. I am totally busted I think.
1:42 PM: I think I'm safe. Just passed Philly. No rendition yet. Do I have the balls to ask him for a photo? #haydenacela
1:46 PM: There is a faint smell of sulfur on the train. #Haydenacela
1:51 PM: New call just came in.
1:53 PM: On Acela: Hayden's comments to press were clearly about NSA spying on foreign allies. #haydenacela
1:57 PM: Win
Corey Robin: Burke in Debt:
Some day someone should write an essay on the struggles of Edmund Burke in his final years to overcome his considerable debts—some £30,000—by securing a peerage and a pension from the Crown.... So terrified was he of dying in a debtor’s prison that he struggled in his retirement to learn Italian. His hope, claimed one of the many visitors at his estate, was to flee England and “end his days with tollerable Ease in Italy.” (He also floated, apparently, the possibility of fleeing to Portugal or America.) “I cannot quite reconcile my mind to a prison,” he told a friend. Thanks to the interventions of his well connected friends, Burke secured from Pitt in August 1795 two annuities that would wipe out his debts and a pension that, along with an additional pension and the income from his estate, would enable him and his wife to live in comfort into their old age.
Three months later, when Burke took up his pen against a proposal for the government to subsidize the wages of farm laborers during bad harvest years (so that they could sustain themselves and their families), he wrote, “To provide for us in our necessities is not in the power of government.”
The greatest hesitation I have about the market economy is the wedge between demand and the willingness to pay that is the ability to pay. This is, after all, why full employment is so important. This is why opportunity and equality are so important.... This wedge... presents] insurmountable problems... [to]any kind of welfare claims about the market economy.... We can't say anything about the quality of the system as a whole that isn't contingent on implausible assumption about the quality of the distribution of the ability to pay. The trouble is the ability to pay is tied up with productivity, and this doesn't seem to be a justifiable basis for distributing well-being. At the same time allocating productivity efficiently is the only chance of getting a surplus in the first place to distribute.
If we have robots, robot socialism is probably an answer. Until then I just don't know.
The structure of credit always rests on three legs:
There are thus three kinds of raid on financial markets:
James Baker: To win again, the Republicans must be a party of hope:
That is not to say that the Grand Old Party did not administer self-inflicted wounds in its recent effort to defund the Affordable Care Act. My party has been hurt by this tilting at political windmills. But while President Barack Obama and the Democrats may have scored a political victory, its impact in the long term is unclear and they were also hurt by the fallout…
I mean, whiskey-tango-foxtrot-bang-query-bang-query. The Democrats didn't threaten to and then begin to break the economy and the international financial system and the government unless the Republicans knuckled under to their policy priorities.
How does that hurt them?
How does James Baker think that hurt them?
The answer is simple: he doesn't. But he doesn't, even now, have the guts to speak truth to the wingnuts. And if nobody in the Republican Party has the guts to speak truth to the wingnuts, the wingnuts will never have their view of the world challenged.
Brian Buetler: The amazing politics of Healthcare.gov failure:
In states as diverse as Arizona, Ohio and New Jersey, where Republican governors--once conservative standard bearers, now fallen RINOs--transgressed against their bases and agreed to implement the ACA’s Medicaid expansion. The most important ACA news of the week... Ohio’s Republican Gov. John Kasich circumvented the state Legislature to expand Medicaid, opening the program to about 300,000 new low-income beneficiaries.
Per Jim Henley's request:
India, a long-time bastion of Fabian socialism, instituted significant reform in 1991...
Capitalism and socialism are specific about the conditions they deem necessary for the creation of wealth and rising standards of living. Populism is not. It is a shout of pain...
Fortunately, modern societies have finally abandoned as unworkable the various economic models of socialism that were so popular a century or more ago. But we need to recognize that welfare states, unless contained, have proven similarly trouble prone. Even the long-vaunted welfare model of Sweden has felt the need for a significant overhaul...
In spite of the September drop in unemployment, the employment-to-population rate (EPOP) remained unchanged at 58.6 percent. This continues the pattern that we have seen throughout the recovery as the unemployment rate falls mainly because workers leave the labor market. The unemployment rate is now down by 2.8 percentage points from its 10.0 percent peak in October of 2009. However, the EPOP is up just 0.4 percentage points from its low point in June of 2011. Over the last year the EPOP actually edged down by 0.1 percentage point, while the unemployment rate dropped by 0.6 percentage points. This drop in labor force participation is now occurring at an equal pace among men and women, with the participation of both dropping 0.5 percentage points in the last year.
The government shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship have had a substantial negative impact on the economy. A new report released today by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) attempts to estimate the actual impact of the shutdown and default brinksmanship on economic activity as measured by eight different daily or weekly economic indicators. Overall it finds that a range of eight economic indicators in what we call a “Weekly Economic Index” are consistent with a 0.25 percentage point reduction in the annualized GDP growth rate in the fourth quarter and a reduction of about 120,000 private sector jobs in the first two weeks of October (estimates use indicators available through October 12th). These estimates very likely understate the full economic effects of the episode because of its effects that continued, and will continue, past October 12th.
Donald Marron: CEA’s New Weekly Economic Index:
The Council of Economic Advisers just released an interesting paper examining the macroeconomic harm from the government shutdown and debt limit brinksmanship. To do so, they created a Weekly Economic Index from data that are released either daily or weekly (and weren’t delayed by the shutdown). These data include measures of consumer sentiment, unemployment claims, retail sales, steel production, and mortgage purchase applications. The headline result: They estimate that the budget showdown cost about 120,000 jobs by October 12.
Looking ahead, I wonder whether this index might prove useful in identifying future shocks...
Economic growth that creates new job openings does assuage the pain of job loss, but only up to a point. Through much of the twentieth century, we sought ways to contain the pain of the capitalist process. The most universally advocated was job retraining for job losers. In 1992, President Bill Clinton, however, described such government initiatives at the time as a “confusing array of publicly funded training programs.”21 Regrettably, my experience is that the political issue is not the outcomes of job training programs but whether the politician who advocates them gains electoral popularity as a result. This is the reason why there have been so many different overlapping job training programs on the books that lost their relevance years ago and should have been discarded. Community colleges appear to be doing a much better job...
Since 1969, during the Republican administrations, social benefit spending rose by 10.4 percent annually (Reagan’s mark was 7.3 percent). Meanwhile, “spendthrift” Democrats since 1965 oversaw a “mere” 8.1 percent annual increase (Clinton’s was 4.5 percent). Of the overall rise, 40 percent occurred during the twenty years of Democratic administrations and 60 percent during the twenty-eight years of Republican administrations. This seeming political anomaly was explained to me by President Richard Nixon (who introduced automatic indexing of Social Security benefits in 1972): “If we (Republicans) don’t preempt the Democrats and get the political credit, they (the Democrats) will.” Much to my retrospective distress, neither presidents Ford nor Reagan, for whom I worked, could or would effectively constrain... benefits...
Alan Greenspan's The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting starts with three paragraphs about the financial crisis. It then adds to it a fourth paragraph about forecasting, human nature, and the state of long-term expectation.
But right when I think I know what the book is gong to be about, Greenspan grabs the wheel and turns it hard right: "underinvesting in our economic future", "our broken political system", "the case for taking action now", "unavoidable short-term pain".
These issues are completely orthogonal to those of the financial crisis, the Lesser Depression, human nature, the state of long-term expectation, and economic forecasting.
Ohio joined the list of states expanding Medicaid for Americans under 133 percent of the federal poverty line on Monday, after a special seven-member budgetary oversight panel made up of state lawmakers gave final approval to Gov. John Kasich’s (R) decision to grow the program via executive order…. That approval came on Monday in a 5-2 vote, securing Kasich a long-sought victory…. Medicaid expansion, a key provision of the Affordable Care Act, is expected to cut Ohio’s uninsurance rate by over 60 percent and extend basic health benefits to 275,000 of the poorest Ohio residents…. 26 states are trying to move forward with some form of Medicaid expansion, while 22 are not, and the rest still remain undecided.
Sumit Aggarwal et al.: Predatory Lending and the Subprime Crisis:
We measure the effect of an anti-predatory pilot program (Chicago, 2006) on mortgage default rates to test whether predatory lending was a key element in fueling the subprime crisis. Under the program, risky borrowers and/or risky mortgage contracts triggered review sessions by housing counselors who shared their findings with the state regulator. The pilot cut market activity in half, largely through the exit of lenders specializing in risky loans and through decline in the share of subprime borrowers. Our results suggest that predatory lending practices contributed to high mortgage default rates among subprime borrowers, raising them by about a third.
Sheri Berman (2006): Interwar Socialism with German Nationalist Characteristics:
P. 110 ff: Over time... the... S[ocialist ]P[arty of]D[eutschland]'s position became increasingly problematic…. [T]he SPD's support of [the Hooverite plans of Chancellor] Bruening and its failure to put forward any distinctive plans of its own for dealing with the Great Depression elicited storms of protest. At the party's 1931 congress… the most electrifying speech, Fritz Tarnow… summed up the SPD's dilemma:
Are we standing at the sickbed of capitalism not only as doctors who want to heal the patient, but also as prospective heirs who can't wait for the end and would gladly help the process along with a little poison?… We are damned, I think, to be doctors who seriously want to cure, and yet we have to maintain the feeling that we are heirs who wish to receive the entire legacy of the capitalist system today rather than tomorrow. This double role, doctor and heir, is a damned difficult task….
I remember what policies Barack Obama has in fact pursued:
Paul Krugman: The Worst Ex-Central Banker in the World:
What Pearlstein doesn’t mention, but I think is important, is Greenspan’s amazing track record since leaving office — a record of being wrong about everything, and learning nothing therefrom. It is, in particular, more than three years since he warned that we were going to become Greece any day now, and declared the failure of inflation and soaring rates to have arrived already “regrettable.” The thing is, Greenspan isn’t just being a bad economist here, he’s being a bad person, refusing to accept responsibility for his errors in and out of office. And he’s still out there, doing his best to make the world a worse place.
The Hamilton Project: Improving College Outcomes: A Modern Approach:
On October 21st The Hamilton Project will host a forum focusing on the evolving role of higher education in American society and release three new policy proposals… ways to strengthen the Pell Grant program… reform the federal student loan repayment system… expand the availability of information on the “net” vs. “sticker” price of attending college…
Binyamin Applebaum: ‘The Map and the Territory’ by Alan Greenspan:
Alan Greenspan… writes… that he has been thinking about bubbles since the financial crisis of 2008…. What economists like to call “the animal spirits” can be incorporated into economic models…. This is promising stuff. It might even make an interesting book. But the subject barely holds Mr. Greenspan’s attention for a single chapter.
Richard Florida: What the Shutdown Revealed About the Economic Divides in U.S. Politics:
The geography of Tea Party conservatives is largely what you’d expect. Half are in the South, and a quarter are in the Midwest. Not a single one is in the Northeast or the along the Pacific coast. All voted for Romney over Obama…. Charlotta Mellander… looking at the share of a state’s congressional delegation that had signed the August letter to Boehner (and thereby made it into Lizza’s "suicide caucus") and key economic and demographic characteristics…. The percentage of suicide caucus districts was negatively correlated with wages (-.30), incomes (-.33) and college graduates (-.36)… less diverse--both in terms of immigrant and gay and lesbian shares of the populations… less urban… [more] uninsured…. The last map gets at the deep economic fissures underlying Tea Party politics. It’s a map of America’s centers of innovation…. The Tea Party gets it stronghold in places that have been left behind by the knowledge economy… "committed to a past that never quite existed and hopes for a future that seems rather unlikely."
Prairie Weather: Experiencing the ACA:
If you're genuinely interested in the experiences of others as they encounter the flawed computer system, then skip down to the comments. The system seems to work pretty damn well.
But now, apparently, it is finally time to strip of the mask and acknowledge what he has been pretending for five years is not so:
Ross Douthat: Obamacare: The Obamacare exchanges… are actually closer to the right-of-center vision for health care reform…. So if the exchanges fail and the Medicaid expansion takes effect (and, inevitably, becomes difficult to roll back), we’ll be left with an individual market that’s completely dysfunctional and a more socialized system over all. In that scenario, the Democratic Party would… [push for] Medicare… to 55- to 65-year-olds and Medicaid… [to] even more. Meanwhile, the task for serious conservative reformers… become[s] harder, because they would have to explain how their plan to build an effective, exchange-based marketplace differed from the Obama White House’s exchange fiasco.
So while Republican politicians may be salivating over a potential Obamacare crisis, the conservative policy thinkers I know are not. They’re hoping, as I’m hoping, that this isn’t as bad as it looks. The chance to say “I told you so” is always nice, but not if the price is a potentially irrecoverable disaster.
Could you have made a difference, Ross, if you had spent the last five years telling your copains of the right that ObamaCare=RomneyCare? Yes, you could have. But you didn't, did you?
Alan Greenspan's publisher did not send me a copy of his new The Map and the Territory. So at the moment I am running on the two different books read by Larry Summers and Steve Pearlstein:
Larry Summers: The Map and the Territory:
It was my privilege to work closely with Alan Greenspan for the eight years I served at the Treasury during the Clinton administration. His new book, The Map and the Territory, brings me back to fond memories of our conversations over the years. I haven’t always agreed with my friend but he has always left me wiser and with something to ponder. I have been struck… by the way… his approach… draws both on commitments to an individualist, libertarian philosophy and on extensive and deep immersion in economic statistics…. The range of topics and arguments makes this book a very important statement, whether one ultimately agrees or disagrees with the author. I found myself doing plenty of both. Greenspan’s range, vision and boldness is especially important at a time like the present, when Washington is preoccupied with the political and petty….
Steve Pearlstein: Alan Greenspan still thinks he’s right:
[Greenspan's] latest book, oddly named “The Map and the Territory,” is meant to be an account of his intellectual journey to discover why, as the nation’s top bank regulator and its most famous economic prognosticator, he failed to see it all coming. Why had the markets, which for centuries had been so adept at self-correction, failed this time? Why had bank executives, with every incentive to protect their fortunes and reputations, knowingly gambled it all away?
What we find, however, is that Greenspan’s journey of discovery brings him right back to… an unshakable faith in free markets, an antipathy toward market regulation, and a conviction that progressive taxes and social spending are to blame….
Larry Summers: The Map and the Territory, by Alan Greenspan:
[Greenspan] acknowledges having changed his mind in some quite fundamental ways, in particular by greatly elevating the significance he attaches to “animal spirits”, especially fear and panic…. Reluctantly but clearly, he sees a stronger warrant for regulation--particularly with respect to the capital and liquidity position of major financial institutions…. He is rightly dismissive of the notion that financial crises can ever be completely avoided, or that governments can totally avoid bailout responsibilities…. One can only agree and hope that rational expectation theorists will take Greenspan on board…. He is very worried about the problem of “too big to fail”…. On this he is surely right… suggesting that “too big to fail” can very easily lead to crony capitalism. “Too big to fail” is surely the besetting challenge for financial regulation in the years ahead. I wish Greenspan had been more specific in his recommendations, although “too big to fail”, like nuclear deterrence, may be an area where ambiguity is essential….
Paul Krugman: The China-Debt Syndrome:
Matthew Yglesias notes an uptick in Very Serious People warning that China might lose confidence in America and start dumping our bonds…. The crucial point… is… the Chinese wouldn’t hurt us if they dumped our bonds…. China selling our bonds wouldn’t drive up short-term interest rates, which are set by the Fed. It’s not clear why it would drive up long-term rates, either, since these mainly reflect expected short-term rates. And even if Chinese sales somehow put a squeeze on longer maturities, the Fed could just engage in more quantitative easing and buy those bonds up…. China could, possibly, depress the value of the dollar. But that would be good for America!…
But, you say, Greece. Well, Greece doesn’t have its own currency or monetary policy; capital flight there led to a fall in the money supply, which wouldn’t happen here. The persistence of scaremongering about Chinese confidence is a remarkable thing: it continues to be what Very Serious People say, even though it literally makes no sense at all. As Dean Baker once put it, China has an empty water pistol pointed at our head.
Dread Pirate Mistermix: Death Panels are in the Past, Let’s Move On:
Atrios: "The obvious thing is that the Republicans totally stepped on their own chances of pointing out what a clusterfuck the Obamacare rollout is. They’ve never had a coherent narrative of just what was wrong with Obamacare, and when actual problems materialized they looked away for some reason." I’d have to consult a psychiatrist or a circus owner to get an expert opinion, but I have a couple of unschooled guesses why the Obamacare rollout isn’t occupying banner headlines on Fox and shooting to the top of Memeorandum…. Goldline isn’t going to pay for ads on a network reporting about petty inconveniences--it’s only the threat of impending apocalypse that moves product.
What's a family values conservative to do when every effort to protect millions of Americans from the scourge of affordable healthcare fails? Break out the beer, of course. The latest campaign to kill off Obamacare in its infancy is now playing out on college campuses where a conservative group known as Generation Opportunity (GO), who are funded in part by the billionaire Koch brothers, is using the lure of free beer and "opt out" beer koozies to persuade young students not to buy health insurance--or, at least, not to buy it from the Obamacare exchanges.
Every time we think the New Republic cannot decline any further, it proves us wrong.
The politest thing that can be said is that your news, editorial, and personnel judgment is deep down the toilet:
Michael Kinsley (October 10, 2013): Obama Should Just Give in to the Republicans:
President Obama should give in. Yes, this mess is all the Republicans’ fault. Yes, it’s outrageous that they can hold the government hostage in order to reargue a law that’s been voted on, signed, enacted, and upheld by the Supreme Court. Yes, it’s a terrible precedent. Nevertheless, he should give in. He should speak to the nation and say, “I cannot in good conscience put you and this country through the traumatic consequences of a default. The Republicans apparently don’t feel that way…. They don’t care…. The sad truth is that if you don’t care about any of that, it gives you tremendous power over those who do. Perhaps unfortunately, I do care. And I believe the stakes are too high to let this become a testosterone contest…."
Prairie Weather: Despair:
Which reminds this Texas of what the group that became the tea party in our area--before they had a label--was most concerned about: big, big business. Corporate ownership of our politics. Which was why, originally, many on the political left and center were at least interested in the observations of what later became the bought-and-paid-for tea party. There had been at one time a meeting of minds among people of two different cultures.